This one hurts. This one hurts because it he was one of the players on that magical 2004 team that broke the curse. This one hurts because he was only 57, and just starting to carve out that second career as an insightful broadcaster. This one hurts because he wasn't a superstar, rather an every day joe who worked hard and dedicated his life to his craft. This one hurts because cancer sucks, and the fact his wife is fighting her own cancer battle is more than any one family deserves to be put through. This one hurts because he genuinely cared about everyone - his family, his friends, teammates, fans, his community. This one just hurts.
In honor of Tim Wakefield, I present a Top 3 Tribute of 3 favorite cards in my collection:
1997 Donruss #219
One of the last great knuckleballers, he turned his career around after making the switch from a poor hitting infielder. You got to love any card that clearly shows the grip used to throw such an unpredictable pitch.
1999 Stadium Club #231
Wake could have been remembered in the same poor light that Bill Buckner was unfairly cast in. That Aaron Boone home run could have been an anchor on his career. Red Sox Nation embraced him, and he came back to become a World Champion in both 2004 and 2007.
2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary
Imagine being such a beloved member of the Red Sox that the ownership essentially gave him a perpetual player option towards the end of his career. If he wanted to pitch the next season, it was entirely his call. It wasn't just for what he did on the field, but also what he did off of it. The 2010 Roberto Clemente Award winner worked tirelessly to make the world a better place.
RIP Tim Wakefield. You will be missed dearly. Thanks for the memories.